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Ecology (Great Nuclear War)

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 North American Ecology

While the climate has remained relatively stable, the natural world has been heavily affected by the sudden loss of human life. Some species have made comebacks, some have been unleashed from their human cages to find new life, and some invasive species have completely choked the life out of ecosystems.

Notable Plant Species

Invasive

  • Brazilian Pepper: 20 years after the war, Brazilian Pepper is taking over former Miami, growing tall enough to completely cover houses. Because the plant is the festive colors red and green, Brazilian Pepper was imported into Florida for use as an ornamental plant at Christmas time but it soon became invasive. Some use it as a source of food, though it has not integrated well.
  • Bamboo: the iconic tall grass-like plants have spread throughout subtropical and even deciduous regions in america. Where it grows, it is a source of food, lumber, and other things. It currently has no natural predators other than humans.
  • Kudzu: Kudzu was imported from Japan in 1876 to use as erosion control and farm feed. It can grow up to a foot a day and has a root network that can spread 15 feet underground. Kudzu soon became an invasive species in the American South, becoming known as “The Vine That Ate the South,". Left unchecked, it quickly covers buildings and rips them down.
    Ripe Autumn Olive

    Ripe Autumn Olives

  • Autumn Olive: (often called the misnomer "Atamala") When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible, and also makes a good dried fruit. Though the fruit are small, the tree bears them abundantly. They are tart-tasting, with chewable seeds. Their seeds are spread far and wide, and they grow well in swamps and marshes. Luckily, these plants have begun to integrate due to use as food and winter frosts.
  • Water Hyacinth: a purple flower imported from South America, is now taking over and killing rivers and lakes across the American South from Florida to Louisiana. It will often cause a large die-off in lakes and rivers, wherein native plants or more hyacinth recolonize.

Native

  • Lichen & Moss: these two plants open the doors for forests to grow in abandoned cities and suburbs. They create the first topsoil, paving the way for their successors.
  • Clover: when topsoil forms over roads and concrete, it is nutrient poor, and can only be colonized by Clover which draws nitrogen from air. This applies legumes as well.
  • Maple Tree: the iconic syrup-yielding plants are moderately fast growers, and have quickly colonized the countryside, along with the equally well-known White Pine and Red Oak.
  • White Pine
  • Red Oak
  • Queen Anne's Lace: better known as White Carrot, this plant grows very well in both grasslands and marshes, and is a common source of food for humans and animals.

Notable Animal Species

Invasive/New

  • Parrots: there are three major species of Parrot that have taken hold in North America, though some subspecies occur.
  • American Grey Parrot: the escaped pets have thrived in the lush American wilderness with a wide variety of nuts, fruits, and seeds for them to enjoy; however they have been kept in check by fungal infections, raptors, and cold winters.
  • Black Crested Parrot: thought to derive from Palm Cockatoos, these beautiful creatures mainly inhabit the deep south and Bayou Swamp, but they have been known to roost in the Insular States. They eat a wide variety of fruits such as Apples, Pears, Apricots, and Plums, and are also known to eat a wide variety of nuts.
  • Budgerigar: the colorful parakeets have taken hold throughout the east coast forests as far north as Maryland, eating seeds from Sunflowers, Pine Nuts, and other seeds, including Acorn possibly (citation needed). Often called "Budgies".
  • Terrier: while in England, the Terrier is still a Kennel Club term, in the Mojave Desert and Great Plains, the term has come to mean something else. The descendants of the energetic terriers and fiest dogs, their small body plans and skill at hunting the rats and lizards has proven an asset to them. While mostly feral, they are often kept as pest control and pets.
  • Rat Dogs: technically a rodent, not a canine, the Rat Dog is a descendant of the Capybara, an adept forager who has adapted well to the warm climate of the south. Hunted often by wolves and humans alike for meat and pelt.

Native

  • Wolf: In the absence of humans, wolves have exploded across the American Northwest, though their progress has been halted by human activity east of the Mississippi River and the Mojave. Many have interbred with dogs.
  • Bear: in the depopulated regions, Bears are once again King, the apex predators. In some places, bears remain smaller than their ancestors, but are more audacious, scavenging from human settlements
  • Bison/Buffalo: in the large absence of Humans, the Bison has returned but now has competitors. In Green Bay, it has been bred with domestic cattle to produce the "Beefalo", which survives lean times better, tastes better, and is more nutritious.
  • Cougar: ever the generalists, the Cougar has made a comeback, in force. They have repopulated the Rockies and Sierra Nevadas, and have even expanded east in deserts, where they are called "Sand Cats" or even Demons by some.
    Mormon cricket

    Mormon Cricket

  • Mormon Cricket: a species of shield-back katydid, the Mormon Cricket is ubiquitous in the Mojave, where they swarm every year and devastate croplands. Some have taken to using them as a food source, and have even captured them to facilitate this harvesting. They are also food for Wolves in lean times when they are out-competed by bears and humans.
  • Texas Longhorn: a gamey and adaptable breed, the Longhorn has found new success in the wastes, as the need for a light grazer became evident. Often used for Steer-Riding and Cart Pulling, and herded by Coways.
  • Rocky Mountain Locust: pushed by humans to the fringes, in the absence of farms, these creatures have resurged, and once again fill the skies. Some interpret them as one of the Judaeo-Christian Plagues returning. Some ecologist speculate that they are actually South American Locusts incidentally imported by trade, though this remains unconfirmed.
  • Horse: Horses have become incredibly important in the American Wastes as a primary mode of transportation, and have been bred into several new breeds which have replaced the old, ranging from quick and fast horses, war horses, and draft beasts of many colours and shapes. Some breeds include the Maryland Cob, a small stocky breed with a dish face and Bay to Blood Bay coat; the Pronco, a Trollish horse of 17 to 20 hands, with a Piebald or Leopard coat; or the Canadian, a dark colored riding horse with sloping shoulders and a high set tail.
  • Camel: escaped from captivity, the camel has been thriving in the Mojave and Sonora deserts. Often domesticated by tribes, the camel does still remain largely wild in America.

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